The wrestling team’s otherwise spectacular season suffered a setback recently as the Lions finished seventh at the 14th Annual Budd Whitehill National Duals, hosted by Lycoming College on Jan. 11-12.
Posting a 4-2 record at the tournament, the Lions are now 11-3 in dual meets this season and have dropped from No. 9 to No. 21 in the most recent National Wrestling Coaches Association poll.
After capturing first place at the tournament last year, the second-seeded Lions had their hopes for a repeat dashed during their first match, a 34-8 loss against St. John’s University (Minn.).
Forced into the consolation bracket, the Lions rebounded with a 25-13 win over No. 22 John Carroll University, followed by a 34-13 victory against Case Western Reserve University to end the first day of competition.
The Lions opened the tournament’s second day by defeating 23rd-ranked Messiah College 28-12, before falling to No. 17 Rhode Island College 25-13. The Lions finished the unsatisfying weekend by beating Springfield College 35-7 to claim seventh place in the tournament.
“The team was extremely disappointed with the seventh-place finish,” senior co-captain Steve Carbone said. “(The tournament) showed us that we weren’t invincible and that we need to work hard every match in order to achieve success.”
Despite the team’s overall disappointment at Lycoming, senior Ray Sarinelli went 6-0 to improve his season record to 18-3. He is currently ranked No. 8 nationally in the 133-pound weight class.
“I felt like I was in control of all my matches,” Sarinelli said. “I had watched some films during the week, and I think they helped me a lot.”
For Icenhower, the team’s poor performance at Lycoming was especially baffling because just two weeks earlier it had out-wrestled some of the nation’s top competition at the Brute Sunshine Open in Lakeland, Fla.
In Florida, the then-No. 8 Lions faced elite company including No. 1 Augsburg College, No. 4 Heidelberg College and No. 6 Delaware Valley College. Despite the strength of the competition, the College produced three winners and three runners-up in the individual-only tournament.
Freshman Justin Bonitatis (165 pounds), junior Greg Osgoodby (174 pounds) and sophomore Dan DiColo (157 pounds) all earned first-place finishes in their weight classes. Meanwhile, Carbone (285 pounds), freshman Kyle Kinchen (125 pounds) and junior Al Wonesh (165 pounds) all grabbed a second-place finish.
“Winning the Sunshine Open was very satisfying,” Osgoodby said. “To be able to compete with these teams now and wrestle this type of competition now will only help us get ready for the National Tournament.”
Osgoodby is ranked fifth nationally in his weight class.
The Lions continued their winning ways a week later at the North/South Duals, hosted by Ursinus College, on Jan. 5. Finishing the tournament 3-1, the College lost only to third-ranked University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
The Lions will wrestle again tonight when they face Centenary College in Hackettstown, N.J., at 7 p.m.